South Korea’s financial intelligence unit has taken action against 16 foreign cryptocurrency exchanges operating in South Korea illegally. The regulator stated that for illegal business activities by unregistered entities, a maximum of five years imprisonment and up to KRW 50 millions of fines could be imposed.
South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) announced Thursday that it has notified investigators about illegal business activities by 16 unregistered virtual assets service providers (VASPs).
The KoFIU (South Korea’s financial intelligence (FIU), is the leading agency in Asia for anti-money laundering (AML/CFT), and other related matters.
These 16 entities include Kucoin and MEXC as well as Phemex, XT.com and Bitrue, ZB.com and Bitglobal.
The regulator stated that all 16 crypto exchanges are located outside of Korea and have no formal domestic presence. They also claimed that they engage in crypto business activities targeting domestic customers. They offer websites in Korean, host promotions for Korean consumers and offer a payment option that allows the purchase of crypto assets with credit cards within the country.
On July 22, 2017, the KoFIU informed foreign-based cryptocurrency exchanges that they had to register with the authority. The 16 entities mentioned above continued to operate in South Korea despite not being registered.
Unregistered entities can face maximum 5 years imprisonment and up to KRW 50,000,000 [$38,000] in fines.
According to the regulator, financial authorities in the countries hosting the service providers will receive information and credit card processing in the domestic market will be stopped. The KoFIU explained that “transfers of virtual assets between and among the 16 unregistered entities” will be impossible because the authorities have issued administrative guidance that requires the suspension of transactions between registered and unregistered entities.
The regulator stressed that the authorities would take all necessary steps to prevent crypto service providers operating in South Korea without registration.
The KoFIU will continue to monitor illegal business activities by unregistered entities, and cooperate closely with authorities.